Soldier Ride The Hamptons is dedicated to the memory of...

Soldier Ride The Hamptons is dedicated to the memory of LCpl Jordan C. Haerter of Sag Harbor. He was killed in action at the age of 19. in 2008 in Iraq. Haerter saved the lives of over 30 Marines and Iraqi policemen. The Veteran's Memorial Bridge was dedicated to Haerter. (July 24, 2010) Credit: Photo by Randee Daddona

Sag Harbor crowds cheered and waved miniature American flags as 30 injured soldiers cycled down Main Street and over Lance Cpl. Jordan Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge Saturday, part of the final trek of the Wounded Warrior Project's Soldier Ride.

Jonathan Pruziner, 23, of Commack, said he was moved by support from onlookers and nearly 900 registered cyclists who followed the soldiers to Sag Harbor Long Wharf for a tribute to Haerter.

"It is definitely a powerful experience," said Pruziner, an Army sergeant whose left leg was blown off below the knee in Iraq in 2007. "It makes you proud to be from Long Island."

The bridge connecting North Haven and Sag Harbor was renamed after Haerter on Nov. 15, 2008. Haerter, a Marine, was killed at 19 defending against a suicide bomb attack in Iraq in April 2008. He is credited with saving the lives of more than 50 United States and Iraqi troops and was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, second only to the Medal of Honor for Marine combat heroism.

Pruziner was joined by his parents and hundreds of others honoring Haerter and other Long Islanders who have recently died in combat.

"Jordan Haerter made the ultimate sacrifice," said East Hampton resident Chris Carney, 40, who started Soldier Ride in 2004. "The greatest way to honor the fallen is to support their comrades."

Carney cycled 30 miles through the East End alongside the veterans. He said the ride not only boosts morale, but allows the community to ride with those they help. "You can chat, ride or fill their tires."

After the Pledge of Allegiance was recited, JoAnn Lyles, 54, of Sag Harbor, asked the crowd to turn toward the bridge dedicated to her son. Tears streamed down reddened faces as music was played that Lyles' brother Ken Lyles, 45, composed while he was grieving his nephew.

"We met a family who just lost a son a few weeks ago," Pruziner said. "We are all supporting one another."

Latest videos